The Pain we Shared.
“We shouldn’t be doing this!” He said and I wondered how we actually got here. How did I end up helping him into his pajamas, while his hands lingered on my butt. He had that lazy smirk on his face and I found that, while the smirk always made my stomach churn, I couldn’t help but smile at how cute he looked.
I had been passing through hospital hell. Everyone seemed to have something to say to me.
“Is that a pink canvas?” My coworker had asked. Why would he ask that? The last time I checked, he had no need for glasses, so why was he asking about what he could obviously see?
“It is. Looks cute right?” I didn’t wait for the reply. My mood was already ruined, but you see, my dad always told me that bad things come in threes.
“A male nurse? Abomination!” The man I was checking his vitals spat out. This wasn’t the first time I had been attacked like this, so why did it hurt more?
To top it all off, I had forgotten my lunch, and now I had to get my lunch from the hospital cafeteria. If that isn’t torture, then I wonder what torture feels like.
So I found myself walking towards the hospital cafeteria hoping to find something my stomach would accept as fit for digesting.
I hated the cafeteria. It smelled of hospital, that smell of disinfectant and alcohol that seemed to cling onto your lungs and slowly but surely you start feeling strangled. It smelled like badly prepared food, too oily and over spiced. But I had no choice. I had to eat, I had a long shift ahead of me and I had skipped breakfast.
“I can do this!” I said, as I walked up to the counter and ordered a plate of rice and fried beef. I tapped out a beat on the counter as I waited for my order. When it came, I carried it and turned. And that was when fate crashed into me.
“What the...” I said, trying to wipe out the oil stain from my uniform. I saw the oil stain spreading and felt my anger spread through my body in the same fashion.
“Why weren’t you looking?” I screamed and looked up to stare at him. I had to, he was tall. And, like me, he wore glasses. I watched his eyes narrow in a way that was so familiar, I felt goosebumps all over my body. Was this Deja Vu? It had to be. I had given up on the notion that fate could be so merciful.
Then he smirked and I was undone. It was him. It had to, who else could it have been? No one else could deliver that lopsided, arrogant and yet so beautiful smirk so perfectly.
“Ezenwa? Is that you?” I asked almost breathless. I saw his eyes narrow, he searched my face and then he smiled. His eyes lit up and he, like me, seemed to believe in fate once again.
“How didn’t I notice the scar!” He said as he gave me a hug so hard, I could feel the oil of the food on my skin. Why Was The food so oily?
When he let me go, I touched the scar on my forehead. He had given it to me, on the day we met. I had called him a spoilt braggart and he threw his toy at me. Who knew metal could hurt so bad?
“It’s been so long!” He let me go and closed his eyes, but not before I could see the pain in them. He still remembered. And I wondered if it haunted him like it did me. Did it make him toss on the bed at night? Like me, did he wake up from nightmares of bloodied walls and closed gates? Maybe he didn’t, but he still felt the pain; that I was sure of.
“You work here?” I asked, then felt like slapping myself. of course he worked here. he had a name tag and everything.
“Yeah. I just started a couple of weeks ago. I work as the head scientist in the chemical pathology unit.”
“I am a nurse.”
“Still taking care of people hey?” he said in the same voice the old man had used to call a male nurse, abominable.
He saw the look on my face and realised that he had upset me. “Can I buy you lunch?” He said, hoping to placate me with a bribe. Typical Ezenwa!
“My shift ends by six pm.” I said and started walking away. I felt his hands on my shoulder.
“Dinner then? Give me your number, I will call you.”
That was how I ended up sitting across him at a table in a restaurant so fancy, I could not recognise half the words on the menu. We sat looking at each other. Silent. Awkward. My fingers twisted the beads at my neck. A nervous response.
“Do you hate me?” He asked. I laughed at that. My laughter came out hoarse and scratchy. I had to clear my throat.
“I missed you.” I replied and I meant it. I had missed him, so much, that I had named my diary after him.
“You don’t blame me? Your dad worked for my dad. He probably would be alive if not for that reason.” I looked at him, and wondered how he had grown from that snotty nose kid, to this tall, dashing and handsome young man. I wondered for a while how those hands that slowly caressed his bottle of beer, would feel on my skin. Maybe like sandpaper smoothing out wood?
“I don’t blame you. If anything, I am quite grateful. Your craving for chocolate saved me that day, well it saved us.”
We talked for a while. He told me how he had done his masters degree abroad. I told him how I had gone to a catering school. I drank a bottle, he drank five and by the time I was finishing my second bottle, he had started talking gibberish and repeating himself.
“Here, Let’s get you home.” I waved for the waiter, and together we dragged Ezenwa to the car. He mumbled something about bills and tabs to the waiter, and gave him a tip that made me wince and made the waiter grin like a Cheshire cat. I searched his pockets for the key and drove him to his place.
I had to admit, the sexual tension had always been there. He was delicious to look at. Helping him into his pajamas wasn’t even a chore. So when he had kissed me, I kissed him back. The kiss was slow, like a toe dipped in a river to check its temperature .
I could feel his hands on my butt, even as he whispered “We shouldn’t be doing this!”
“I am sorry. We are both drunk. Let’s stop now?” I started pulling away and then he grabbed my crotch. “I never said I wanted to stop!” Then he kissed me again. The first kiss had been soft, stealthy. The second kiss was something entirely different. It was hard and it was demanding. It was sizzling hot and it melted away every ounce of reluctance I had. The kiss tasted of him, of whisky and mint and greed. He asked and I gave and I gave some more and he collected.
His hands went into my chest and pinched my nipples and those rebellious buds reacted to his touch.
“Let’s forget, if only for tonight. Let me make you forget.” That was the last thing I heard, before he dipped his hands into my briefs and the world became him. His head followed his hands leaving a trail of soft kisses in its wake. When had my shirt come off? I tried to remember but then his lips enclosed my sex and I was lost. I could not think, or feel or see anything that wasn’t him. The world smelled of him, of aftershave, Nivea and spit. Then I heard it, sounds so guttural, so beastly, it took me a while to realise that it was coming from me.
I had never felt this way before. He was taking me to a high I had never reached before. He raised his head and looked me in the eyes.
“Why did you stop?” I asked and he laughed, his eyes beautiful orbs of light dancing in the dark.
“I realise that what I said in the afternoon hurt you, you know, about your job?” he said and before I could say anything, he grabbed my dick and that shut me up. “I think it’s beautiful that you love taking care of people. So tonight, I want you to take a break.” He lowered his head and licked the tip of my dick. “Let me take care of you!” and as he said this, he took me into his mouth and the climb began again. He was slow then fast then slow again. It was as if he was running with me holding on to his hands. We were running towards something, a light so white. And when we were just about to get to the peak, he stopped and turned me over.
“I want you to cum with me buried deep inside you.” He said in a voice so raspy, so husky it sounded like a catarrh filled whisper. I smiled at his assumption. I touched his face and kissed his cheeks, then I turned over. I heard him search for something in the nightstand and then I heard a foil rip. The suspense and the desire, a weird mix, was forming a knot in my stomach. He dipped his fingers inside me, he moved them around and lubed me up in the process.
He withdrew and then I felt his tip. My muscles resisted the intrusion. “Relax. You are so tight!” he whispered and I almost laughed out loud. I let him slide gently inside and then he stopped. When he didn’t move for a while I rasped “I know you said you would take care of me, but I am human not a porcelain doll. Move or I will get up and whoop your ass.”
“You are just so tight! I almost came. I want you to enjoy this, I don’t want it to finish before it starts.” I could hear the laughter in his voice. I smiled and then he started moving and groans and moans replaced the smiles.
He started with gentle strokes, strokes that allowed me to breathe and to think and to want. Then the strokes became faster and all thinking was forgotten, my breathing came out in harsh gasps and all I could do was want and want some more. He hit a certain spot, and I felt intense pleasure. I saw stars and fireworks. He hit the same spot again and I felt my legs turn to jelly, I felt my stomach unfurling and my limbs loosening. He continued hitting the same spot until I came strong and hard and loud.
He stroked me through my orgasm, whispering my name and hugging me as I rode out the waves that racked me. Just as the last wave of pleasure hit me, he moaned into my ears, stroked me one last time and poured his essence into the condom as he released a last guttural sound.
He rolled off me, found a damp towel and cleaned us up, still stealing little kisses and nipping at every dip on my body. He threw the towel towards the basket of dirty laundry and then he laid beside me and spooned me. He soon drifted off to sleep. I tried to sleep too and then the dreams came.
“Mommy gave me some money. Let’s go and get chocolate!” he said, as he shoved some notes into my hands. An amount that would have been my allowance for a month, but for him it was just chocolate money.
I looked at him and smiled. “You are going to get fat. Do you want to look like your dad?” I teased him. He hated how his dad looked, and who could blame him. His dad looked like the typical Nigerian Politician; fat, and short, the type that made you look ugly even when you weren’t.
“Eeeeww, I don’t want to look like daddy; I want to look like you.” He said, his grimace so tight, his face looked like a rumpled shirt. I didn’t bother reminding him that I was just four years older than him.
“Oya let’s go.” I held out my hand and he clutched it. We waved to my dad at the gate.
“We are just going to get chocolates!” I screamed out to him. He smiled and opened the gate for us. The mall was close by, it was just a ten minutes walk from the house. So on a not so busy day we could make it to the mall and back in thirty minutes. That was all it took; thirty minutes.
We came back to see the house under lock down. I saw blood on the wall. They wouldn’t let us in. It looked all surreal, like scenes from a movie. There was this emotion that sat deep in my chest. It wasn’t anxiety and it wasn't dread, but a weird stifling mixture of the two. We were still outside, holding on to each other, when Ezenwa’s aunt came to pick him. She way crying, and I found it weird, watching a big woman like her cry. So I turned away, so I would not see her, so that she would not see me.
She came to where we were sitting and dragged Ezenwa from me. He started crying, but I sat there, numb and unfeeling. His aunt dragged him into the car and that was when it hit me. I ran after him, crying out his name “Ezem!”
I didn’t want him to go. I called out to him and I continued calling out to him, a call to stay, a call for help.
I woke up, sweating and crying. Ezenwa was holding on to me. He was kissing my head, he was rubbing my forearm.
“It’s okay. It was just a nightmare. I am here and I am not going anywhere babe.”
“Promise?” I asked. I suddenly had a desperate need to hear him say it.
“Promise!” He looked at me with such tenderness, such love, I felt like porcelain. “Want to talk about it?” he asked.
I looked at him and the tears started again.
“I saw it on the television, my aunt wasn’t careful enough to keep it from me. They said it was an assassination.” I said and I saw in his eyes that he knew too.
“I missed you greatly. I even named my diary after you.”
“You kept a diary?” He said. He had an incredulous look on his face but his eyes were filled with laughter.
I laughed, he made it sound so funny.“Yes I did. I was fifteen!”
Can I come back in the evening?” I asked, my voice dripping with hope. I needed him, so very much.
“You can come back every evening.” he said. I smiled and snuggled closer to him. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t go back to the nightmares.
We virtually lived together after that day. I spent most of my nights at his place, wearing his shirt and making dinner. After dinner, we talked and laughed and made love. We didn’t want to give a name, a meaning to what we had. We laughed and we loved and we made love but we never called it love.
I didn’t want to believe that it was love, that this longing to be in each others company, this insatiable want that left me weak and trembling was anything more than lust or desire or just cravings for stars and fireworks.
I think we were afraid. I knew I was afraid. We were two gay lovers in Nigeria, a country so homophobic, a boy could not afford to wear pink. So we kept a lid on what we felt. We played and cooked and fucked and then left for work, but we never said “I love you”.
I began to like the cafeteria because of him. I could eat the too greasy, too oily food, because of him. We would sit at a particular table each day and eat our lunch. Talking in slow whispers and smiling deeply. He called it our table.
“Here take my bag and go to our table. I will order.”
He always ordered for me and he always chose what I wanted or I wanted whatever he chose.
We developed a pattern. During Lunch, I would walk to his office in the Chemical Pathology Lab and knock on his office; the one he shared with his pimply coworker that wore too much make up. I would peek inside and smile at the her.
“Nnem good afternoon. How are you?” I would ask, to which she would give a terse “I am fine.” Then I would smile at Ezem, who was already standing and walking towards me.
I never deluded myself into thinking she liked me. So the day I pressed my ear against the door, I wasn’t surprised that much to hear her talking about me. I had been about to open the door when she mentioned my name. So I had pressed my ear to the door to listen.
“He is a sissy! You can’t possibly be comfortable around him. Everybody is saying he is gay and you are his gay lover!”
The words cut me but the bleeding wasn’t much.
“He is just a friend going through a lot. You see, we went through a tragedy together as kids and it has been difficult for him to move on.” he paused and my heart beat paused with him
“Like you said he is a sissy. I just have to take care of him even though it’s becoming burdensome.”
That wound bled. It was too deep not to. He had taken everything I had built a wall against and he had catapulted them over the wall. I felt empty, vulnerable. I felt as if someone was trying to force broken calabash down my throat.
I didn’t go back to his office and when work was over I went to my place, took off my work clothes, and cried. I cried so hard my ribs began to ache.
When I heard the door bell, I knew it was him. So I opened the door, I wanted to see him, even if it was for the last time. He looked drained, tired. He was leaning against the wall. When he saw me, he exhaled so hard, as if he had been underwater for too long.
“I didn’t see you at lunch?” it was a question. He wanted to know why. He was asking me for a reason when I was the one hurting.
“I wasn’t hungry!” I said and it was the truth. His little conversation with Pat had rid me of any appetite. I felt as if a huge stone had been lodged in my stomach.
“You didn’t come to say goodbye.” he asked, this time looking into my eyes. “Is anything the matter?” he asked. I looked at him, wanting to hurt him as much as he had hurt me.
“I heard you and Pat talking about me!” I said and watched him, how his eyes widened when he realised what I meant, how he couldn’t talk but his mouth seemed like it would stay open forever. I shut the door on him and sat down on the floor with my back against the door. I cried and this time it was loud and hard. I tired stifling my sobs with my hands but they still came out heavy and loud and choking.
“Let’s talk about this please. Let me explain, I am begging you.”
“Go home; I really don’t want to talk to you.” I said between sobs
“I didn’t mean of the things I said. I was just trying to protect you.” He said then paused. When his spoke again, I could hear the tears in his voice. “Scratch that! I was trying to protect myself, to lie to myself. I have been running away from how much I really need you. Her questions today threw the truth at my face.” He paused as if he was waiting for me to accept what he said, for me to believe it.
“I wanted to hide from it, I was afraid of the truth, so I lied. I lied, more to myself than to her. You are no sissy, I am. I am sorry it took me this long to tell you, but I am hopelessly in love with you and I am completely lost without you.”
I had stopped crying. I was listening and I was holding my breath. “You love me?” I asked. I wanted to hear it again. To be sure that he was sure.
“Yes I love you. I love how you hold me when I sleep. I love the feeling of home when I see you in the kitchen making breakfast while wearing my shirt. I love you and I can’t lie about it anymore.”
I opened the door and let him in. I held him close and kissed his lips. “I love you too.” I said, finally letting it out of my system. I loved him and I couldn’t take not telling him anymore.
When he kissed me this time, it was fire, liquid and languid and golden, going down my throat to warm my heart. It was a kiss that fought and defeated the principles of anatomy.He lifted me up and I put my arms around his neck. He carried me to my bedroom, and lay me on the bed. He pulled down my shorts with an urgency that was reflected in his eyes and I undressed him just as quickly. He grabbed my sex and leaned into it.
I felt the liquid fire pooling in my stomach. He inhaled deeply and then took the tip of my penis inside his mouth. He sucked on it a little and my back arched off the bed. He took the whole thing into his mouth and the liquid fire burst into flames and spread, into my stomach, through my blood and into his eyes, his gaze never left mine even as I tried to keep my vision clear. He got up and took a condom from his wallet; the type with extra lubrication. I started to turn but he pinned me down and whispered “Tonight, I want you to take care of Me.” and without saying another word, he rolled the condom down my length and straddled me. He lowered himself gently and then he started moving. It felt like heaven and hell. Like a vortex threatening to drag me into its depths. I soon matched him and we developed a rhythm. I thrust and he glided. He rode me and he rode with me to that high, that beautiful high that only the two of us could find. This time we saw the stars and fireworks together.